While at the California Preservation Foundation, I’ve seen my share of loss. Sometimes it seems that the demolished buildings outnumber the saved. We are a curious-seeming bunch, those of us interested in salvaging what little remains left of our shared cultural heritage. While the world around us tilts toward the future, we often obsess over the interminable passage of time.
When conservation goes beyond preserving the external appearance of historic structures and meets the local needs of the population, it becomes environmentally, economically, and culturally sustainable. Sustainability breathes new life into decaying, yet unspoiled neighborhoods. The old walled city of Shibam in Yemen is a city that, out of necessity, created such an environment.